The collective nervous breakdown that the UK’s Labour party is having, as it struggles to come to terms with defeat at the recent general election, is no laughing matter. Really, it’s not. The existence of a weak opposition can help breed arrogance in the governing party, which usually results eventually in policy missteps. Governments need to be held to account effectively and Labour is in no fit state to do its primary job.
That being the case, it is fashionable to say that leftwing firebrand Jeremy Corbyn getting on the ballot for the Labour leadership election alongside Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall is final proof that Labour has flipped. Indeed, when I heard the news that 35 MPs had backed Corbyn, I did initially think: “Wow, that’s bonkers” Then I remembered how much I detest the current fashion for these elections and debates to always be conducted solely in the eternal blandness of the so-called centre ground, policed by a media that demands candidates conform to the media’s idea of a candidate.
Yet, when political parties were in much better health in Britain, in the 1960s or 1980s, there was much more ideological variety and it would not have struck anyone as strange that left-wingers who believed in five year plans and surrendering to the Soviet Union should put up candidates to lead the Labour party.
Corbyn’s ideas are, in my book, dotty, dangerous and deluded, but in a free country shouldn’t they be aired, debated and defeated by the sensible parts of the Labour party as they used to be, rather than somehow being accorded the glamorous status of illicit intellectual contraband?
Still, putting Corbyn on the ballot paper does have one unintended consequence, which is amusing the Conservatives greatly. Suddenly, there is great interest from senior Tories in helping Labour to elect Corbyn, because they think, rightly, that it would equal oblivion for Labour and a generation of Tory rule.
There is a practical way Tory voters can help, the Conservatives have realised. For just £3 anyone can sign up as a Labour supporter and a get a vote in the party’s leadership contest. On Twitter, Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, has already described getting the chance to help make the completely unelectable Jeremy Corbyn Labour leader as a notable bargain.
This Tories4JeremyCorbyn movement could take off. How long before someone establishes a website and Twitter account explaining how Tory voters can win it for Jeremy?